Washington – President Donald trump and some of its officials flirt with an atypical theory that a Chinese laboratory released the coronavirus to the world. Without presenting any evidence, they again try to blame China for the infections and deaths related to COVID-19 in the United States.
“We hear this story more and more,” says Trump.
The secretary of state Mike Pompeo He added that “the simple fact that we do not have the answers – that China has not shared the answers – I think is very revealing.”
The scientific consensus in this regard continues to evolve. But experts overwhelmingly point to analyzes of the coronavirus genome ruling out the possibility that it was made by humans, some conspiracy theories suggest.
Nor is the virus likely to have come out of a negligent laboratory in China, they say.
“I would put it on a list of 1,000 different scenarios,” he said. Nathan Grubaugh, of the Yale University and who studies the epidemiology of microbiological diseases.
Scientists point out that the virus naturally formed in bats. They say the main theory is that the infection in humans started at an animal market in the Chinese city of Wuhan, probably from an animal that was infected by a bat.
Either way, Pompeo and others are accusing an institute run by the Chinese Academy of Sciences and which has conducted cutting-edge research to trace the possible origins of the SARS virus, discovering new viruses in bats and how they might get there. to the people.
“We know that the Wuhan Virology Institute is a few miles from where the fresh goods market was,” Pompeo told Fox News on Wednesday. The institute is located about eight miles from the market.
U.S. officials say the U.S. embassy in Beijing voiced concerns about possible security problems at the Wuhan lab in 2018, but stressed that there is no evidence that the virus originated there nearly two years later.
The episode reveals that the two world powers – the country where the virus originally came from and the country with the most infections and deaths related to it – are not exempt from handling flimsy theories and using propaganda to divert attention from the problems. in their response to the pandemic. China previously spread the false rumor that it was the Americans who carried the virus.
Both Beijing and Washington wasted crucial time responding to the outbreak.
More than 3,000 people had been infected before the Chinese government informed the public of the conclusions it had reached six days earlier: that a pandemic would likely be triggered.
Beijing ignored the first warning signs, to the extent that the population was assured that there was a low risk of sustained contagion between humans even when infected people began to enter hospitals across the country, and the first case was recorded in abroad in Thailand.
The Chinese government tried to blame the United States, copying Trump’s habit of filling his tweets with exclamation marks. “The United States Army may have brought the epidemic to Wuhan,” Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian tweeted on March 12. “Be transparent! Spread your data! The United States owes us an explanation! ” Subsequently, China stopped promoting that lie internationally.
The United States, which was also slow to take the threat seriously, has lagged behind other countries in its response to the pandemic.
Trump did not follow through on his initial promises to do mass testing, a key factor in containing the disease. The United States is still struggling to supply hospitals, health workers, and patients in need in an environment of confusion that is turning into chaos. More than 640,000 people have become ill with COVID-19 in the country, not counting the enormous number of cases that have not been registered, and more than 31,000 have died.
In that context, there is too much pressure to find a scapegoat.
After weeks of high praise for the Chinese president’s performance Xi Jinping During the pandemic, Trump has resorted to blaming China and suspending Washington’s contributions to the World Health Organization (WHO), which he accused of repeating disinformation from Beijing.
In the United States, allegations that the virus was created or released in a Chinese laboratory emerged just weeks after the outbreak began, and quickly spread from fringe internet sites to the general public, fueled by conspiracy theorists. of all lines.
The reality is much simpler, says Dr. Gregory Poland, director of vaccine research at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota.
“The virus is a typical bat coronavirus that has developed the ability to infect other mammals, and bats are also mammals,” he said. “What is becoming evident is that the natural origin of this fits with the contagion dynamics and biology of it all.”
Whatever they think about the idea of a laboratory leak, Trump officials have not embraced the wild theory that China may have created or released the virus through genetic engineering or malicious intent.
“I don’t have much faith that they are being honest with us,” Defense Secretary Mark Esper said Thursday on NBC’s “Today” show. However, “a large majority of current positions indicate that it is natural, that it was organic.”
And it is a kind of distraction in a country that is facing the current danger, he seemed to imply.
“Once we get over the pandemic we will have an opportunity to look back and really find out what happened,” he said.